Rap artist Ice Cube, who offered impressive acting turns in "Boyz N the Hood," `Trespass" and "Higher Learning" has decided to take his movie career into his own hands, co-writing and co-executive producing "Friday."

A light comedy (most of the way), which is apparently intended as a vehicle to showcase Cube's talents and those of comic actor Chris Tucker, "Friday" is basically a day in the life of a slacker in the hood.

Set during a 151/2-hour period of a casual Friday, much of the film takes place on a front porch in a black neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles.

Cube stars as 22-year-old Craig Jones, who lost his job after being accused of theft (whether he is guilty is left up in the air). He lives with his dog-catcher father (John Witherspoon), who spends most of his time eating and going to the bathroom; his overweight mother (Ana Maria Horsford), who cooks an enormous breakfast, then eats it all herself; and his straight-arrow, high-school-age sister (Regina King).

Craig spends the day hanging out with his best friend Smokey (Chris Tucker), and is eventually dragged into his troubles. It seems Smokey agreed to sell marijuana for a local drug dealer called Big Worm (Faizon Love), but then smoked all the dope himself. In addition, Craig and Smokey keep running up against Deebo (Tiny "Zeus" Lister), a bully who makes everyone's life miserable.

That's pretty much it, plotwise. The rest of the film is composed of skit material, all of it filled with cheap humor and vulgar payoffs. (Jehovah's Witnesses swear, a hypocritical preacher is literally caught with his pants down, etc.)

Oddly, the film is most affecting when it takes a serious turn, as Craig must square off against Deebo and help his friend get out from under Big Worm's thumb . . . so to speak.

These latter moments speak to loyalty and integrity and are laced with an effective anti-gun message.

As a comedy, however, most of this material is lamentably lame, including a couple of bathroom gags that come right out of recent Jim Carrey pictures.

Cube's charm and Tucker's frantic antics can carry the movie only so far before the wall-to-wall profanity, constant vulgar humor and male chauvinist ogling (the boys frequently stand and stare at a scantily clad neighbor working in her yard across the street) wear out their welcome.

Cube obviously wants to say something about life in the hood, and what it takes to transcend the obvious pitfalls of growing up there. But a better script could make all the difference next time.

"Friday" is rated R for violence, profanity, vulgarity and drugs.